Where you can go to study law in Singapore

Want to become a lawyer?

Previously, we’ve talked about what you should consider if you want to take up a law degree in Singapore; we’re now here to give you a quick introduction to Singapore’s three law schools! Before that, here are two things to note about the Law Industry.

  • The bar has been raised—quite literally

From 2023, there will be significant changes made to the professional training regime that lawyers have to undergo before being able to practice.

Currently, aspiring lawyers have to pass the Singapore Bar Examinations after their degree and undergo a 6-month practice training contract to be called to the bar; thereafter, they can practice law. The new system will see lawyers-to-be being called to the bar right after passing their Part B exams but remain unable to practice law until they complete a 12-month training contract. This is to ensure the standards of incoming lawyers are high, while giving those who do not intend to practice a chance to explore alternate career pathways and make use of their legal expertise.

  • Tech disruption and the role of the future lawyer

While becoming a lawyer used to be associated with career stability, the legal industry is one of the sectors to have felt the effects of technology and the resulting threat of job displacement, most strongly. Today, online dispute resolution systems are already helping to settle simple and low-value consumer disputes, and legal technology companies have swept in to provide cheaper alternatives for tasks like document review. Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon, for example, has constantly emphasized how investment in legal tech is “…integral to future-proofing [the legal] profession”.

As the role of a lawyer evolves, exciting changes are definitely afoot.

Without further ado, here are the three schools in question for a law degree: SUSS, NUS and SMU! For the younger crowd, Temasek Polytechnic offers the only Diploma in Law here which you can take a look at.

1. Singapore University of Social Sciences, School of Law

Singapore’s newest Law School (and the third), SUSS’s School of Law was set up in 2016 and commenced classes in 2017. Focusing on family law and criminal law the school takes in 60 students per intake on average. Currently, SUSS is the only school to offer night-classes to cater to working adults needs—mid-career entrants being their primary demographic.

Courses on offer: Bachelor of Laws (full load, 4.5-6 years long), Juris Doctor Programme (4-6 years long), Master of Taxation (in collaboration with the Tax Academy of Singapore, 2-4 years long)

Average tuition fees (2020, unless specified):

  • Bachelor of Laws: SGD $46,440 for local students, SGD $92,880 for PRs (with tuition grant)
  • D Programme: SGD $38,700 for local students, SGD $77,400 for PRs (with tuition grant)
  • Master of Taxation: SGD $28,248 for Singaporeans and PRs (2019)

2. National University of Singapore, Faculty of Law

Singapore’s first law school with roots stretching as far back as 1957, the NUS Faculty of Law is considered to be Asia’s best today. The faculty accepts 240 undergraduates on average for their Bachelor of Laws per year, and those reading 4-year LL.Bs can avail of International Exchange Plus/Fast track LL.M. degree opportunities. Some of the things that NUS law students do during their studies include pro bono work for the arts sector and managing Asia’s oldest student-run legal publication, The Singapore Law Review.

NUS currently comes in 13th in the QS World University Rankings by Subject (2019), and 21st in Times Higher Education World University Rankings by Subject (2019). Members of theirdistinguished faculty holdpostgraduate degrees from universities such as Harvard, Cambridge and Oxford University.

NUS’s 2018 GES reports their Bachelor of Laws graduates as having a 97.3% overall employment rate (after 6 months), with a mean gross salary of SGD $5,263 and a median gross salary of SGD $5,500.

Courses on offer: NUS offers a wide range of law programmes.

Undergraduate-level:

  • Bachelor of Laws (4 years, Honours)
  • Graduate Bachelor of Laws (3 years)
  • Double Degree in Business Administration and Law
  • Double Degree in Economics and Law
  • Double Degree in Law and Life Sciences
  • Double Degree in Law and Yale-NUS B.A (Honours)
  • Concurrent Degree in Law and Public Policy

Graduate-level:

  • Masters of Laws
    • 7 specialisations available for coursework programme: 1) Asian Legal Studies, 2) Corporate and Financial Services Law, 3) Intellectual Property and Technology Law, 4) International Arbitration and Dispute Resolution, 5) International Business Law, 6) International and Comparative Law, and 7) Maritime Law
    • D. Research Programme

Average tuition fees (2019):

  • Undergraduate Law Programmes: SGD $12,650 for locals, SGD $17,700 for PRs per annum (with tuition grant)
  • Graduate Law Programmes:
    • D.: SGD $9,500 for locals, SGD $13,300 for PRs per annum (subsidised)
    • LLM General/Corporate and Financial Services Law/Intellectual Property and Technology Law/International and Comparative Law: SGD $9,500 for locals, SGD $15,150 for PRs per annum (subsidised)

3. Singapore Management University, School of Law

Formerly the law department within the SMU Lee Kong Chian School of Business, SMU’s School of Law became fully fledged in 2007. Taking in around 180 undergraduates per year, the school offers the Bachelor of Laws (4 years long) , Bachelor of Science (Computing and Law, 5 years long), a full-time J.D programme, as well as a Master of Laws (15 months long, dual LLM withQueen Mary University of London available).

SMU currently ranks in the 101-150th bracket in the QS World University Rankings by Subject (2019), and has set many records in the international moots scene.Members of their distinguished faculty hold postgraduate degrees from universities such as Stanford, Yale and Oxford University. As of April 2019, SMU’s School of Law is a 23-time International Moots Champion, and is also the first Asian university to be part of the THEMIS law Network.

SMU’s 2018 GES reports their Bachelor of Laws Honours graduates as having a 92.7% overall employment rate (after 6 months), with a mean gross salary of SGD $4,856 and a median gross salary of SGD $4,500.

Courses on offer: Mentioned above

Tuition fees (2019):

  • Bachelor of Laws and Bachelor of Science: SGD$ 12,650 per academic year for local students, SGD$ 17,700 per academic year for PRs (with tuition grant)
  • D Programme: SGD $ 72,760 (with GST). SMU alumni enjoy a 10% discount (with tuition grant)
  • Master of Laws: SGD $ 37,450 for Judicial Studies Track and Cross-Border Business and Finance Law in Asia Track. The Dual LLM Track requires SGD $ 28,000 and £14,000 in fees, payable to SMU and Queen Mary University of London respectively.

4. NUS Law Academy (Part of the NUS Faculty of Law)

Launched in November 2018, NUS Law Academy provides skills-based, industry relevant courses to both lawyers and working professionals. It currently offers 3 Graduate Certificate Programmesand 1 Graduate Diploma Programme. The Academy also offers an auditing programme open to legal professionals who want to take specific graduate courses, but are unable to go through a full graduate programme.

Courses on offer:  Graduate Certification in International Arbitration, Graduate Certificate in Criminal Justice (only open to nominated Home Team Academy members), Graduate Certificate in Intellectual Property and Technology Law, and Graduate Diploma in Maritime Law and Arbitration.

Average tuition fees: Fees differ from programme to programme.

We hope that this has given you some help into your search for a law school, and invite current law students (as well as alumni) to share with us their experiences in any of these schools! Let’s help our juniors together!

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